119. Michael Gale

Player Inductee

Penguin/Fitzroy/Richmond, Wingman/Half Back, 1984-98

105 games, 29 goals for Fitzroy, 1986-93
91 games, 20 goals for Richmond, 1994-98
Around 30 games for Penguin, 1984-85
Penguin NWFU premiership, 1985
Five State of Origin matches for Tasmania, 1988-93
One State of Origin match for ‘The Allies’, 1995

A tough and courageous but sadly injury-ravaged player, Michael Gale was a member of the third generation of the Gale footballing dynasty from Tasmania’s north-west coast.

Born in 1966, Michael Gale was the eldest son of former Tasmanian football great and 1958 All-Australian Don Gale, and grandson of 1924 Richmond player Jack Gale. Don and his wife had settled in Penguin on Tasmania’s north-west coast after Don had retired from competitive football in 1962, and it was here that Michael’s own football journey began with the Penguin Football Club. First appearing for the Two Blues in 1984 aged 17, Gale played in Penguin’s NWFU premiership triumph over Smithton the following year as an 18-year-old, and in late 1985 he travelled to Victoria to play VFL football with Fitzroy.

Gale’s career in Victoria got off to a stuttering start; after making his debut for Fitzroy in Round 1 1986, he would not make another senior appearance for the Lions until Round 6 the following season due to persistent injuries. Upon his return however, Gale set about becoming a regular fixture in the Fitzroy side, and his form by the end of 1987 was good enough to earn him four Brownlow votes in the space of three games. Between Round 6 1987 and Round 22 1990, Gale played 83 of a possible 92 games for Fitzroy and enjoyed the most consistent and injury-free run of his entire career. Unfortunately injury struck again in Round 4 1991 and Gale would miss the rest of that season. Returning to senior football in Round 2 1992, Gale failed to reach the heights of the late 1980s, and at the end of 1993 Gale was one of three Lions (along with Paul Broderick and Matthew Dundas) traded to Richmond in exchange for Tigers forward Jeff Hogg.

Joining a Richmond side in which his younger brother Brendon had established himself as a first-choice player since his debut in 1990, Michael Gale played 15 games in his first season in yellow and black, and 18 the following year in a season when the Tigers charged into their first finals series in 13 years. It was Gale’s third season at Punt Road in 1996 however that would be his best; he played every game for the year for the only time in his career, and his excellent disposal and hard running ability helped set up many an attacking play from defence or a wing for the Tigers as they just missed out on a finals berth. Gale continued to perform consistently well for the Tigers for the next two seasons but his injury woes continued, including a broken collarbone and a chronic knee complaint. Finally, after 196 AFL games, including 91 in the yellow and black, Gale retired at the conclusion of the 1998 season.

Outside of club football Gale represented the state of his birth a number of times, including at the 1988 Bicentenary Carnival in Adelaide, and most notably in Tasmania’s famous win over Victoria at North Hobart Oval in June 1990.